Руді провалля, глинища зелені,
Завалений зотлілим сміттям рів.
Жахаючись, вривається в легені
Зловіщий вітер ржавих пустирів.

Не бліднути, не скніти не здригатись -
- Стоять, як суд! Як войовник стоять!
Замало клятв, щоб ними присягатись,
Щоб проклинати – не стає проклять

Звичайний яр, брудний і неохайний,
Тремтляві віти двох блідих осик.
Ні, це не тиша! Незгасимий крик,
Ста тисяч серць, предсмертний крик одчайний.

Сріблястий попіл спалених кісток.
Людського лоба тріснутий шматок.

Розпались яру здвигнуті укоси.
Позвуть із ями золотисті коси –

В землі не скрилось, тліном не взялось

Витке і ніжне золото волось.
Блищать на мокрій твані крутоярів
Розбите скло старечих окулярів,

І дотліває, кинутий на бік,
Закровлений дитячий черевик.

Зарито в землю, втоптано у глину
Жахливий слід стотисячного тліну;

Слизький і жирний замісився глей
Розкришеними рештками людей.

Це тут ревіли вогнища багрові,
Це тут шкварчали нафти ручаї,
І в трупах жадно рилися палії,
Шукаючи скарбів на мертвякові.

Тяжкий, гнітучий і нестерпний дим
Підносився над моторошним яром.
Він дихав смертю, він душив кошмаром,
Вповзав в доми страховищем глухим.

Багрово – чорні полохи блукали
По занімілій від жаху землі,
Кривавили злим відблиском квартали,
Бруднили житель київських шпилі.

І бачив люд з своїх скорботних сховищ,
Як за вінцем кирилівських будов,
За тополями дальніми кладовищ
Горіла страшно їхня плоть і кров.

Могильний вітер з тих ярів повіяв –
Чад смертних вогнищ , тіл димучих згар

Дивився Київ гнівнолиций Київ,
Як в полум’ї метався Бабин Яр.

За пломінь цей не може буть покути,
За погар цей нема ще міри мсти.
Будь проклят той, хто звабиться забути!
Будь проклят той, хто скаже нам – « прости» !


Deep brownish hollows, slippery green claypits,
rotting debris in a ravine.
The wind here bears away malignant vapors
that grab your throat and stab you in the lung.

Do not turn pale or flinch, do not turn back.
Stand — as before a judge, firm as a warrior!
In times like these, our oaths all seem so weak.
We lack the curse to curse the horrors here.

A plain ravine, dirty and cluttered.
Two aspens turn their branches to the sky...
But silence? No — a hundred thousand hearts
sound their despairing, dying cry.

The silver ashes of burnt bones.
A cracked piece of a human head.
The crumbling banks of the ravine.
And, climbing from the ditch, a golden braid —
earth hasn’t swallowed and decay has spared
the soft gold of this waving hair.

On one bank, in the wet mud, flashes
a splinter from an old man's glasses.
Off to the side, half rotted through —
a child’s small bloodstained shoe.

Deep-sunken in this earth and trampled in the clay,
a hundred thousand bodies putrefy;
the clay is slick and greasy, mashed
with mangled human flesh.

Here crimson tongues of fire thundered,
here hissing petrol gushed to feed the flame.
The body-burners, to their eternal shame,
had searched the corpses in their lust for plunder.

A pall of heavy smoke rose from this pit.
Exhaling death and stifling with its nightmares,
it crept through houses, one after another,
like some dread monster, deaf and mute.

Black-purple flashes of this silent lightning
wandered across the horror-stricken earth,
casting a glow, blood-red and frightening,
on all who lived beneath Kievan roofs.

People who cowered in their homes bore witness,
staring beyond St. Cyril’s domes,
beyond the graveyard poplars in the distance,
seeing their flesh and blood go up in flames.

A deathly wind blew from the ditch —
the fumes of death, of bodies burnt.
And Kiev, wrathful Kiev watched
as flames rushed up from Babi Yar.

We can’t do penance for that fire, those ashes —
we can’t avenge them all, however long we live.
Curses on all who hope they can forget this!
Curses on all who tell us to forgive!


Translated by Peter Tempest, revised by Boris Dralyuk

Rust-colored cavity, green clay,
rotting garbage, moats.
In terror of itself the wind
enters the lungs, the wind
of rusted badlands.
Do not pale, nor shrink, 
nor shudder - Stand as if 
facing judgement!
Upright- like a warrior- stand!
There is no oath sufficient to swear,
There is no curse sufficient to lay.
Just a ravine, ragged and unkempt,
The trembling branches of two pale aspens.
This is not silence! This - the
Ceaseless scream of a hundred thousand hearts,
the dying wail of all hope lost.
Silver ashes of burnt bones.
A cracked shard of cranial bone.
The walls of the ravine crumble.
Two golden braids аslither from а hole,
no rot, no hiding for the golden curls.
In the moist sludge between steep walls
the glimmer of а pair of crushed reading glasses,
A child's bloodied shoe decaying  on its side.
A terrifying mark of a hundred thousand putrefactions;
The gley is fat with trampled shards of man.
This is the place of scarlet fires,
This is the place of brooks of tar,
of colliers picking apart the corpses
In search of gemstones and gold.
Heavy, oppressive, insufferable smoke
floats over the noxious ravine.
It breathes death, breathes nightmare,
a deaf monster crawling through the streets
and creeping into houses.
Black and scarlet flames wander
along the land that lost its speech in horror,
the bloody hues reflect on Kiev's soiled roofs
the bloody hues reflect on Kiev's soiled spires.
The city folk is watching from its sorry hovels
how beyond the monastery domes,
beyond the graveyard poplars
burns human flesh and blood.
Another gravely gust from the ravine -
the soot of pyres of death 
the fumes of burning flesh.
And Kiev's ired face is gazing 
at Babi Yar writhing in flames.
There is no remorse to quell this fire,
No measure set for retribution still.
Be cursed the one who dares forget!
Be cursed the one who asks forgiveness!

Translated from the Ukrainian, by Roman Turovsky

A muddy, clay green pit, its ruddy void
A rotted-out ravine, full of waste.
They cut into your lungs, these ominous
Putrid winds from far-off rustlands.
Don't flinch; don't pale; don't turn away.
Stand tall, as though before a judge, a soldier.
We cannot find the curses to condemn.
The oaths -- we cannot find the oaths to swear.
Straightforward pit! Disordered pit, untidy,
The branches of two white aspen tremble.
No. Here among the dead it isn't silent:
A hundred thousand dying hearts are sobbing
And human cinderbones burn silver.
A person's forehead, broken into bits.
The crumbling slopes have slid into the void
To coax a golden braid out of the pit.
This twist of golden hair is delicate,
Not buried by the earth, not turned to ash.
And shimmering in the muddy, wet embankment
An old man's shattered pair of reading glasses.
A child's shoe, soaked in drying blood
Is cast aside, abandoned, rotting.
And buried underground, beneath the mud
Are a hundred thousand moldering bodies.
It's slippery -- this greasy clay, this flesh
Of mangled, headless human carcasses.
Here the angry tongues of fire hissed,
Here folks fueled the raging flames with gas,
But not before (the shame!) they'd searched each corpse,
Treasure-hunting in the murdered mass.
There rose, above the terrible ravine
A heavy, suffocating smoke,
Inhaling death, exhaling nightmares, choking
It's way into the homes -- a deaf-mute fiend.
Lightning -- purple-black and silent, flared
Out across the horrorfrosted land.
The suburb sank beneath its evil glare,
Tarnishing the Kyiv households. And
The people, from their mournful cellars, saw
How, past the graveyard poplars, with their graves,
And, past the domes of Cyril, with their wreathes,
Their very flesh and blood went up in flames.
The ash from deathfires, corpses charred.
And Kyiv, angry Kyiv, witnessed this:
As flames rose toward the sky from Babyi Yar.
There is no penance for this kind of fire.
There is no vengeance for this kind of murder.
Damn the ones who say it's in the past.
Damn the ones who say, "Forgive, it's over."

Translated, from the Ukrainian, by Amelia Glaser


Copyright © 2001, by Roman Turovsky